Take a tour of bad veterinary practices before you build

Visiting bad practices is a key step to determining your priorities as you plan your new facility.
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Jun 01, 2011

Veterinarians planning their dream practices often ask C. Scott Learned, president of Design Learned in Norwich, Conn., for a list of new facilities to visit so they can get an idea of the hospital they’d like to create. While Learned says he’s happy to offer a list of new hospitals, he always offers up a second list as well: old, dingy dumps.

“I don’t want you to see a perfect working facility,” Learned says. “I want you to see a piece of crap. I want you to see the 10 places that were built in the 1950s that smell bad and look bad and have terrible noise problems. Those are the places you need to see so I can explain to you why they don’t work.”

What’s the benefit? Seeing is believing, Learned says. This process teaches just how bad a bad practice can be.

“If you ask 100 veterinarians if noise in their practice is important, they’re all going to say yes,” Learned says. But, he adds, noise control sometimes gets cut when veterinarians are trying to reduce costs. Learned says in one particular case, he believed the noise reduction was so important that he documented the client’s decision to go against his recommendation.

“The client came back later and said, ‘You didn’t tell me how bad it was going to be. If I’d known it was going to be that bad, I wouldn’t have done it,’” Learned says.

So before you visit the top-notch new practices in your area, tour some older practices to discover the building mistakes you can avoid.

“You need to go and see it and stand in it and say, ‘I couldn’t stand this for 10 minutes,’” he says. “That’s the only way you get a strong feeling about how important noise control is in the scheme of things.”